George A Romero: Between Night and Dawn

George A Romero: Between Night and Dawn

Rating: 4/5

Reviewed by Dave Lancaster

Summary: A trio of seldom seen and underrated Romero pictures show that there's more to this auteur than just zombies.


Between Night and Dawn is the perfect title for Arrow's new Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format box set as not only does it infer that something is taking place in the darkest of times but it also contains the three films that horror maestro George A Romero made between his 1968 breakout low budget shocker Night of the Living Dead and his glossier, more focussed reinvention of Dawn of the Dead.

Through There's Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch and The Crazies, we chart Romero's evolution from shoestring revolutionary to influential gore king. It's an odd journey that sees him try out a romcom (There's Always Vanilla), a Hammer horror style throwaway (Season of the Witch) and a small town virus thriller (The Crazies) of which the latter feels closest to the zombie pictures he's best known for.

But a common thread runs throughout - diverse characters who are trapped and contorted by a claustrophobic society. Romero always had a gift for making even his cannon fodder memorably drawn. These three are also all shot in his beloved Pittsburgh but they feel like they're reaching wider. Is Romero trying to appeal to a mainstream Hollywood with an offbeat romance riding on a wave of pictures like The Graduate and Love Story that were box office smashes with somewhat darker undertones?

There's Always Vanilla and Season of the Witch unfortunately don't represent his best work (and not just because they're not zombie fests) but because the scripts just aren't well honed enough to support his considerable skills as a guerrilla director. They're decent, if forgettable, curiosities that have been pulled from obscurity by Arrow for the Romero aficionados to revel in.

The Crazies, however, now this is more like it. This deserves to be revered in the same way as his Dead pictures are. It charts the disintegration of a small community in the wake of a devastating virus but the masterstroke of the film is that even more brutal than the virus is the haphazard military forces that overrun the town and end up causing more destruction than the chemical imbalance itself.

With their stark white biohazard suits and masks, at a distance they look like the KKK. It's such a searing comment on the impersonality of government and military that 'the little people' they're trying to protect will be churned up in the gears of their faceless machine. The Crazies is a vintage horror masterwork that now has its ultimate Blu-ray release via Arrow.

This fantastic box set includes brand new restorations of the three films, a lavish 60-page booklet featuring new writing on this fascinating chapter of Romero's career, a wealth of extras including interviews, featurettes and behind the scenes documentaries, reversible sleeves for all three films featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork, and a beautifully designed and striking slipcase featuring an iconic image of the man himself.

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD presentations
  • Original Mono Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Reversible sleeve for each film featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
  • Limited edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing on the films by Kat Ellinger, Kier-La Janisse and Heather Drain

THERE'S ALWAYS VANILLA

  • Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
  • Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
  • Affair of the Heart: The Making of There's Always Vanilla – brand new documentary featuring interviews with producers John Russo and Russell Streiner, stars Judith Streiner and Richard Ricci, and sound recordist Gary Streiner
  • Digging Up the Dead – The Lost Films of George A. Romero – archive interview with Romero discussing his early films There's Always Vanilla and Season of the Witch
  • Location Gallery with audio commentary by Romero historian Lawrence DeVincentz
  • Memorabilia Gallery
  • Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

SEASON OF THE WITCH

  • Brand new 4K restoration of the original theatrical version from the camera negative [90 mins]
  • Alternate extended version [104 mins]
  • Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
  • When Romero Met Del Toro – filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro in conversation with George Romero
  • The Secret Life of Jack's Wife – archive interview with actress Jan White
  • Alternate Opening Titles
  • Location Gallery with audio commentary by Romero historian Lawrence DeVincentz
  • Memorabilia Gallery
  • Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

THE CRAZIES

  • Brand new 4K restoration from the original camera negative
  • Brand new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
  • Romero Was Here: Locating The Crazies – Romero historian Lawrence DeVincentz takes us on a guided tour of Evans City, PA and the locations used in The Crazies
  • Crazy for Lynn Lowry – cult star Lynn Lowry discusses her early career including her role in The Crazies
  • Q&A with Lynn Lowry filmed at the 2016 Abertoir Film Festival
  • Audio interview with producer Lee Hessel
  • Behind-the-scenes footage with optional commentary by Lawrence DeVincentz
  • Alternate Opening Titles
  • Image Galleries
  • Trailers & TV Spots
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

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